~* =/\= *~

Seven of Nine

~* =/\= *~

"Your record of service for the past five years on Voyager is quite astounding." Admiral Rayburn began as she rounded the corner of her desk. "However, you were never enrolled at the Academy. You never took the required classes or passed the required examinations as the rest of our officers have. To allow you to enter Starfleet without those qualifications would be negligent on our part. We must insist that you complete the required course work before being given a post."

"Locutos, known to you as Jean-Luc Picard, went through the Academy. All of his knowledge and skills were incorporated into the Collective. So, I have taken the courses-- through him."

Rayburn drew in a deep breath. "You, Annika Hanson, have not been enrolled in the classes. You,, yourself, must complete them. Not work through someone else."

Seven cocked her head to the side. "What is the purpose of assigning me to classes which I already know all the required material?"

"If nothing else, you'll learn how to interact with other members of Starfleet." Rayburn was beginning to lose her temper with the former Borg. She wouldn't admit it to anyone, but after the Federation council had selected her to act as advisor to the young woman, she'd had some serious qualms. The majority were due to the fact that Annika had once been part of the Collective which was still attempting to overtake the Alpha Quadrant.

Seven looked down at her hands. "I have served on Voyager for over five years. I wish to continue serving on a star ship. If I must go through these irrelevant motions, then I shall. And I'll graduate a year before you expect me to."

"'Early graduations are highly discouraged."

"Irrelevant. I have gone over the courses which I will be required to take. I can do it in two and a half, but to please you, I shall extend it to three."

Rayburn pursed her lips. "We'll see." Was all she said before handing Seven a slip of paper. "Here's your room assignment, Cadet Hanson. Your prep squad officer will be Lieutenant Nimembeh."

Seven's head jerked up at the mention of the name. "I was under the impression that it was Commander."

"Commander Nimembeh is the Lieutenant's father. You'll find his daughter is very much like him though."

~* =/\= *~

Seven stumbled into her quarters four days later. Yes, Lieutenant Nimembeh was very much like what Harry and Chakotay had described her father as. Seven could personally attest to that after running ten laps around the track-- in full uniform. Even her superior Borg strength hadn't helped her this time.

Gasping for a full breath of air in this slightly thicker atmosphere, Seven dropped to her bed and allowed her sweat to roll off her face in little droplets. She ignored the other girls who were running in and out of her room to shout and giggle with her room mate, Julie Henderson.

Suddenly, a fluffy white towel hit her arm. "Get up and quit being a wimp."

Seven's blue eyes flashed in anger as her head snapped up. K'Ratacha Nowak stood before her. Seven stood to her full height, which was just a few inches shorter than the Klingon. "You will not throw things at me, Cadet." She said in a low voice. "Tossing objects at one is irrelevant and unnecessary."

"Irrelevant?" K'Ratacha laughed, a grating sound that made Seven's skin want to crawl. "I don't think so, Miss Borg." She snatched the towel from Seven. "You spend way too much time wallowing in self pity. Maybe you think you're better than all of us, but guess what. You're not."

Seven leaned toward the girl menacingly. "You are jealous because while you were still laboring over high school lessons, I was serving on a Starfleet vessel."

"Think I'm jealous because you were assimilated?" She laughed again. "I don't think so, Borg." She turned to the small group who had gathered. "Come on. Let's leave this one alone."

After they'd left, Seven lay back down on her bed. K'Ratacha had been picking on her and tossing snide remarks her way for the past four days. How would she endure the next four years?

~* =/\= *~

Two months later, Seven sat at a long table in the mess hall by herself. She was concentrating on the data padd at hand as she ate the Bolian surcas.

"Mind if I sit here?"

"The seat is not taken." She said without looking up as someone dropped a stack of padds on the table with their lunch.

A hand reached over and plucked the data padd from her grasp. "Atomic Chemistry."

She finally looked up and into the laughing eyes of Manolo Ferdanaz.

"I'm in your class."

"I know. You were also in my survival team." She was instantly reminded of Lieutenant Nimembeh glaring at the three cadets who had finally walked in-- after a shouting match and division with the rest of their group. "You are Manolo Ferdanaz."

"Nice to see you again too, Cadet Annika Hanson." He reached over and plucked her hand off the napkin where it was resting so he could shake it. "I do believe you're the one with the highest grade in the class. Right?"

Seven resumed eating. "Your assumption is correct."

"Then, you're the perfect one for me to come to." Manolo pulled a padd out of the stack. "See, I'm having trouble understanding some of this stuff." He rolled his eyes. "Hydrogen bonding and the -ates and -ites are driving me crazy. I was wondering if you'd help me."

Seven regarded him closely for a moment. "If you are willing to put in the time and effort, I will."

"Great!" Manolo grinned widely. "When?"

"Tomorrow afternoon. One hour before class. I will meet you in the study hall."

"I'll be there." He smiled again and grew silent for a minute. "What was it like?"

Seven's head snapped up. "Clarify your question."

"What was it like being with the Borg? And being out in the Delta Quadrant, so far from the Federation."

"The Collective was what I grew up with. After the initial fear of being assimilated, I grew to know it and be comfortable with it. Being in the Delta Quadrant, as part of Voyager's crew was the best thing that ever happened to me. They taught me to be human again and they were my family."

Manolo nodded slightly, as though he understood. He would have asked more questions, but the bell rang signifying the end of their lunch hour.

"See you tomorrow afternoon.

~* =/\= *~

Seven shuffled the padds in her arms as she walked down the coorider of the Academy. Ahead of her, a Starfleet uniformed officer walked out of an ajoining hallway. Something about the gait of the officer made Seven peer closer.

Her heart jumped in her throat with the realization that it was Harry. Quickening her step, she came to walk along side her old friend.

"Seven!" Harry dropped the padd he was carrying and stopped in his tracks. Taking a deep breath, he let it out in a huff. "Whew! You scared me."

"I am sorry, Ensign."

"It's ok. I was deep in thought."

"Deep in thought? That phrase is not logical."

Harry grinned at her as he picked up the padd. "I knew they couldn't get rid of that Borg humor you're so well known for," he said dropping a kiss on her cheek. "How have you been anyways?"

"I am having a difficult time adjusting to the life of a student and not a worker." She answered and continued their walk.

"Student?" He caught her by the elbow and stopped her. "I'm sorry. Going from an officer back to a cadet again must be hard."

Clear blue eyes met beautiful Asian brown ones. "I do not enjoy being spoken to as though I have never been on a ship before. I will adapt."

"Adapt my foot." Harry muttered catching up with her. "You're more likely to be correcting the teacher."

Seven merely raised her eyebrow at him.

"Let me buy you dinner." Harry said suddenly.

"For what purpose?"

"Because you're my friend."

Seven's heart fluttered in her stomach. What were these odd feelings for?, she wondered. But, she did enjoy Ensign Kim's company. "If you like."

~* =/\= *~

Seven pecked another equation into the padd and began to balance it. She had completed the assigned work, and was now working on advanced problems. Advanced to most students, that is. She was able to glance at it and know the answer almost instantly.

Manolo stood across the room watching her. Her uniform was crisp and neat, every strand of blond hair was in place. Taking a deep breath, he strode over to her. "Hey."

She glanced up quickly. "Good afternoon. Are you ready to begin?"

"Yep." Manolo set his books on the table and reached for the padd she had been working on. "Are you going out for the engineering track or something?"

"I am." She retrieved the data padd and pulled one of his texts towards her. "What are you struggling with?"

"I don't know." He admitted with a sigh. "I'm going for communications and won't have to know this depth of chemistry."

Seven raised the Borg implant over her eyebrow. "This is not very deep. This is simply naming the compounds."

"I still don't get it." He pulled up a simple assignment that was supposed to be done for class that day. "Look at this. NO. Nitrogen Monoxide. I can understand that one. But it's when I get to the percholric acid and iron (II) sulfates that I have trouble. There are too many formulas."

"Have you memorized the six basic rules of nomenclature?"

"I...I think so." He shook his head. "I've memorized so much stuff, it's getting hard to keep track." Dimples flashed at Seven.

She pulled another lesson up on the padd and began to go over the work. An hour later the bell rang signaling for them to go to class.

Manolo still sat after Seven stood. His head was bent over a problem, a lock of dark brown hair falling into his eyes. Suddenly, he jumped up. "Magnesium perchlorate!"

Seven leaned over and peered at the padd.

Manolo's eyes rested on her slim frame and blond hair. She really was a beauty, he thought to himself. And, since he'd entered the Academy later than most, she was only two years older than him. Annika didn't date much, or so he'd been told. She didn't do much of anything with other students, preferring to keep to those already in Starfleet. Briefly, Manolo wondered if she'd date him.


Manolo shook himself from his dream and grinned at her. "Thanks Annika. Let's get to class and see how I do on this quiz."

~* =/\= *~

Three weeks later, Seven sat on a bench outside the conservatory, physics padd in hand, as she reviewed her lesson. The first few weeks at the Academy had proven to be extremley hot and uncomfortable, but now autumn was moving in and the days were cooling off enough to spend time outside-- a pastime Seven found she enjoyed immensly.

A large hand suddenly clasped her shoulder causing her to glance up startled. "Harry!" She stood up quickly and allowed him to bursh a kiss over her cheek before returning to her seat. "How are you doing?" She asked the man who had been at the Academy almost every day since their dinner 'date.'

"Great. I'll be better once you agree to come home with me this weekend."

Seven looked up sharply. "Go to your home?"

"Sure. My parents have moved to an apartment in New York, but I found out that they're having a small family reunion of sorts on the coast of Massachuttes this weekend." He glanced down at his hands, "I was hoping you'd come with me."

Seven hesitated for a moment. Go home with him? Meet his family? According to Terran history, that was what was done before a couple entered into a marriage. "Are you going to ask me to marry you?"

Harry drew in a sharp breath in shock as his face turned a flaming red. "Seven!" She didn't say anything but simply continued to stare at him. Harry visibly squirmed for a moment trying to come to grips with what she had just asked him. Glancing up, he found her still watching him. "I guess I should be completely honest." He began. "The idea has certainly crossed my mind over the past few years, however; I don't want to rush you into anything. Right now, our relationship is probably not ready for marriage, though I do hope that in a few months we are."

Seven cocked her head to the side. "I will go to this family reunion with you."

~* =/\= *~

"Can you believe it!?"

Seven winced and forced herself to not cover her ears as K'Ratacha blew through the dorm rooms.

"I asked him to have lunch with me! And he said he's busy!" She stopped just inside the door to glare at Julie.

"Who?" Julie asked.

"Manolo Ferdanaz." She nearly growled.

"Maybe he had to study for a test or something." Julie pointed out.

"Yeah. Maybe that was it." K'Ratacha agreed. "I'll ask him to go down to Rixon with me tomorrow afternoon. Before his chemistry class."

"He's busy."

Both girls turned to stare at Seven.

"What do you mean?" K'Ratacha's voice lowered again.

"I am tutoring him fo. Iemistry." Seven replied without looking up as she paged down on her micronuclear physics padd.

"You're tutoring him?? That's why he couldn't come to lunch with me?" K'Ratacha glared at Seven. "Look here, Miss Borg. I met Manolo last year on Riza. He and I were interested in one another then. And you weren't in the picture. You stay out of it now."

Seven eyed the Klingon for a minute. "Your anger is unjustified. I have given no indication that I have any feelings for him, yet you accuse me of just that. I am tutoring him, and you are being unreasonable."

"Don't patronize me." K'Ratacha glared. "Just stay out of the picture."

~* =/\= *~


"I arrived at the appointed time. Do you question my actions?"

Harry fought the urge to laugh at her. Taking the standard Starfleet case from her hands, they stepped onto the transporters and awaited the slight tingling sensation that would occur before they found themselves across the country.

The instant Seven materialized, she was aware of a slightly different smell. The Academy and Starfleet headquarters had not smelled of anything, Seven had become accustomed to it. Here, there was a faint taste of salt in the air.

"It's from the ocean." Harry said notincing her upturned nose. "We're right on the coast." True to his word, once they were outside the building all Seven could see in the east was a stretched of water. Above them, sea gulls cried. A few meters down the road, sand met the pavement.

"It creates a heightened sense of emotions."

Harry snorted. "It's beautiful."


They were interrupted with the shouts of children of various ages running towards them. Seven tried to take a step back, but was prevented by Harry's arm firmly around her waist. "Don't disappear on me." He whispered with a smile just before a girl of about twelve flung herself in his arms.

"Harry!" She shouted in his ear.

"Melanie!" He gave her a quick hug before greeting his other family members. Quickly he introduced Seven to the children and then went towards a large, rambling, beach house.

"This place has been in the family for years." Harry and Seven brought up the end of the trail of children as they ran to the house. "I think my grandfather's ancestors back in the nineteenth century built it. Of course," he hurried on. "We've made modifications. Electricity in the twentieth century. Solar heating in the twenty first. Replicators were added in last century."

"It is an exquist peice of architecture."

Harry laughed out loud at her. "Seven, thank you!" He gasped clutching his sides.

"I fail to see what you are thanking me for."

"You keep me laughing." He leaned over closer to her so only she could hear his words as the family surrounded them. "And I love that."

~* =/\= *~

"Are you going to marry Uncle Harry?"

Seven started incrediously at the young child before her. What was his name? Miki? Mickey? Mika?

"Mikial, don't be rude." A slender woman of about twenty four pushed the child away. "Go outside and play with Peter." As the youngster scampered off, the woman turned to Seven. "I'm sorry about that. He's one Aunt Heather has been having trouble with. Actually," The woman bit her lip. "She pretty much has trouble with both of them."

At Seven's bewildered and confused visage, Anna suddenly remembered who she was talking to. "Oh! I'm sorry. I'm Anna. I was in the kitchen when Grandpa led you through. That was Mikial, my Aunt Heather and Uncle James' child. Their other girl is Jo, short for Joesphine, who is a tomboy and gets into more mischief than I did at her age-- and that's quite a bit to top." Anna's brown eyes sparkled with laughter.

"I am sorry. I am unable to remember all the names and faces which I should be familiar with."

"It's ok." Anna laid a hand on Seven's arm, a slight twinkle in her eye. "Harry will be glad to answer any questions you have." She cast a glance over her shoulder. "Tell me, how did you manage to catch Harry? He has only been interested in one girl that I've ever known of. Of course, that was before he left for Starfleet."

"I did not 'catch' Ensign Kim." Seven stated. "He--"

"Caught you?" Anna giggled as many of the cadets did. "I bet he did!"

Seven looked around the room for help. Harry was talking with his father and Uncle Roger, Anna's father. At that moment, he seemed to feel Seven's eyes calling for help. Glancing up, he motioned for her to join him on the sofa.

"Excuse me," Seven slipped away from the gossipy girl and towards the safe haven of Harry's side.

"So, have you two decided on a date?"

Seven drew in a sharp breath and cast a glance at Harry.

Harry didn't dare look at the woman beside him. "Of course, Father." He replied, his voice not betraying a hint of humor. "The next time we're in the Delat Quadrant."

~* =/\= *~

It was early morning as Seven slipped out of her bed room. She had doned on a pair of sweats and now padded in her socks downstairs to the outside porch.

"Come to see the sun rise? I knew you wouldn't be able to resist." Harry grinned at her as she stepped outside into the frosty morning air.

"I have been told that this is not an experience to be missed." She retorted leaning against the rail.

"The sunrise is beautiful." He agreeed, "But there's something more I wouldn't want to miss. Take off your socks." Harry was bent over peeling off his own socks and wiggling brown toes at her.

"Excuse me?"

"We've got to go for a run in the sand." He insisted. "It's going to be freezing this time of year, but you'll love it!"

Seven hesitantly pulled her socks off and then set her feet down on the deck. It was freezing! The air was only about fifteen degrees and the lifeless deck made it seem much cooler.

"Let's go!" Harry had grabbed her hand and was dragging her down the expanse of the beach towards the water edge. Still clasping her hand tightly in hers, they began to jog down the beach. Water on their left, land on their right.

Seven breathed in deep gulps of fresh air as her feet pounded on the wet sand. Eeeeeek!!! She let out a little squeel of excitement as the water rushed over her bare toes and then pulled the sand over them again. Splash. Splash. Splash. Squish. Squish. Slap. Slap. Her feet hit the sand hard as she continued to run hand in hand along the beach. The wind caught her carefully groomed hair and pulled it free of the braid she had plaited it in. Now, it tumbled down around her ears and blew over her shoulders in a golden cloud.

"Where are we going?" Seven shouted over the wind to her partner.

"There's a lighthouse up here." Harry answered. "I always went there when I was a kid."

Indeed, there was a light house-- in the far distance. As they drew closer to it, she could see the that the smooth sand turned into a rocky beach with small boulders jutting out of the ocean.

Harry helped Seven climb onto one of the massive stones and then pushed his hair out of the way. "Isn't it the best?"

Seven looked around herself. The waves crashed against the rocks further out and then rushed in to swirl around their rock. The air was frosty and their breaths made tiny puffs in it. The sun was just rising over the ocean creating a tranquil setting as gold and pink splashed across the blue water.

"It it pleasing to the eye."

Harry turned to her, agast. "That's the closest you've ever come to saying something is beautiful!" He slid over by her and wrapped an arm around her back so she could lean into him.

"Beauty is-"

"No. It's not irrelevant." Harry pulled her into his embrace and breathed in the scent of her hair. "Seven, look around you. Have you enjoyed this morning?"

Seven didn't answer for a moment, but snuggled closer to him. "Yes, I have."

"Would you have enjoyed it as much if it had taken place in the middle of a city, with people rushing around us and a stench of one of those old fashioned cars about us?"


"See there?"

"Do I see what?"

"You wouldn't have enoyed it as much, therefore; beauty is relevant."

"Peace is relevant. Company is relevant. I would have enjoyed the day as much if we had been isoloated in a small room with only each other for company."

Harry looked down at the woman in his arms. "Really Seven? You really feel like that?"

She pulled back to look at him. "I would not have said it if I did not."

Harry's hands came up to trace the outline of her chin as he placed the other on the back of her neck and pulled her closer to him. "Seven?..."

Bright blue eyes were filled with an emotion Seven had never fully experienced. "Yes?..."

Harry's mouth was hardly a breath away from hers. "I love you," he whispered before brushing her lips with his. A moment later, both pulled back.

Harry was reeling from the emotions she had evoked from him. He had fully expected her to break out of his arms before he ever had the chance to kiss her, and now that she hadn't, he was left staring at her like an idiot. He felt like the cat that'd caught the canary-- and didn't know what to do next.

Seven eased herself out of his arms. Her stomach had ceased to feel as if it was flipping over and now she merely felt light headed and dizzy. Probably from lack of nutrition- she mused. She had not eaten a morning meal yet.

~* =/\= *~

Seven glanced nervously at the ocean. She hadn't been around it for more than a day, but even she could tell that a storm was brewing and it was going to be a bad one. The wind whipped around her, the air was filled with a slight electrical charge. She wrapped the jacket more tightly around her small frame and continued her trek back to the main cabin.


Her head jerked up at her name. Harry was jogging down the shoreline to her.

"Hello, Harry."

"Where have you been?" he demanded wrapping her in a tight embrace.

"I was at the lighthouse again."

"Please, don't ever scare me like that again!" He held her close for a moment longer. "I couldn't find you and didn't know what had happened."

"I apoligize. I will remember to tell you before I leave by myself again."

"It's ok. I just don't want anything to happen to you." He explained slipping an arm around her waist. "Let's get going. A storm is coming and it's going to be a whopper."

"Agreed." Seven bent her head over and walked along side Harry who still had his arm securly fastened around her waist. For some unknown reason, she felt a surge of pleasure course through her heart at his nearness.

"Look." He stopped suddenly and turned them towards the ocean. Clouds rolled over one another and lightening danced between them. Sometimes, the lightening shot down and connected with the water in a brilliant flash. The water itself was churning and bubbling. Waves crashed over each other in a fight to make it to the shore.

Seven jumped at another crack of thunder. "I fail to see what I am looking at." She informed him as the wind tore at their clothing and hair.

Harry stepped closer to her so his mouth was beside her ear. "Think of it, Seven. Five hundred years ago, people took to those waters willingly with no idea of what might happen."

He paused for a moment in awe as he brushed her cheek with his own. She felt a shiver run the legnth of her spine. Nothing uncomfortable, just different.

"They eagerly joined a journey to the 'new world' which could have easily tossed a storm like this in the way that would have plunged them to the ocean floor. I find it facinating and extremely brave of them."

"I find it incredibly stupid."

Harry snorted in laughter at her. "To each his-- or her-- own opinion."

"And, I find it incredibly stupid for us to continue standing out here."

"Just a minute longer." Harry continued to gaze at the ocean as lightening cracked around them.

"No." Seven stepped out of his embrace and looked to the house. "We need to get inside."

Harry glanced at her. There was fear in her voice. Something he had only been witness to a few times. "You're frightened, aren't you?"

"I am Borg. Borg are not frightened." Another bolt of lightening sliced through the sky as the air around them vibrated with the rumble. Seven nearly jumped two feet.

"You're not Borg anymore."

"Then I have no reason to be embarrassed." She took a shakey breath and glanced around as the electricity danced overhead. "I'm terrified."

~* =/\= *~

Harry spied his prey sitting on a bench, much like he'd found her a few weeks ago. This time, he snuck up behind her and leaned down to her ear, "Hey, Beautiful."

Seven started and whirled around before jumping up. "Don't do that!" She exclaimed, with mock anger.

"Sorry." Harry grinned back and took a step towards her.

Seven neatly side stepped his advance with a smirk of her own. "Nope."

Harry narrowed his eyes. "Yes." He said with a mischivious glint in his eyes.

She merely raised the Borg implant over her eye at him.

"Come here, Seven of Nine."

"If I was that compliant, Voyager would have assimilated my entire junction."

Harry burst out laughing.

Seven, thinking she was free tentativly smiled at him.

Suddenly, she wasn't smiling, but was staring in shock that Harry had been able to laugh at her, grin at her, and give her a quick kiss within a few seconds. He had acted so fast, she hadn't been able to counter react.


"You did and you have." She blushed at the loving look Harry bestowed on her.

~* =/\= *~

"Hello Seven. I know you're busy at the Academy, but I wanted to see how you were doing. I remember my days there were some of the best, although I was impatient to gain my first posting-- as I'm sure you are.

"This message is not just to say hi and that sort of thing. I'd like to invite you to my wedding. Commander Justin Tighe and I have decided to get married the seventh of November and we'd like for you to come. Send me a subspace message if you can. I'll look forward to getting the message from you."

Seven closed down the comm signal and pondered the thought for a moment. Captain--no, those were admiral level pips attached to her collar-- Admiral Kathryn Janeway was going to get married. And it wasn't to Chakotay. At first, Seven had been surprised, but now she was gradually becoming accustomed to the idea. She briefly wondered how Chakotay felt though.BR>

~* =/\= *~

"Annika! Annika! Wait up!!!"

Seven turned at the shout and watched as Manolo exploded through a crowd of people. Opening his arms wide, he swept her into a bear hug and planted a firm kiss on her cheek.

"You're the greatest! Thank you so much!"

Still bewildered at the sudden affection, Seven stared at him in confusion. "I'm sorry, Cadet. I don't know what you're referring to."

The most recent chemistry quiz was shoved into her hands. "I got a 'B'! A 'B'!!!"

She regarded it carefully. "You did much better than you were before we began." She handed it back to him. "Congratulations."

"Thanks." Grinning, he threw an arm around her shoulders and continued down the hall with her. "How about we celebrate? Even you have to eat sometimes. Dinner at Rixon."

K'Ratacha passed them just then. Seven caught her eye knowing she must have heard the invitation. It would serve K'Ratacha right if she accepted Manolo's invitation. But she couldn't. It would hurt Harry if he found out. Shrugging off his arm, Seven turned to face Manolo. "An improvement in one's grades is not a justifiable excuse for asking one to dinner. Besides, I have planned to take a light meal in my room while studying for micronuclear physics."

"Sorry." He felt like he'd been talked down to by his older sister. "Will you still keep tutoring me though? Please?"

She hesitated. "I will tutor you as long as you need help in this subject.

~* =/\= *~

Harry fell into step beside Seven. "Who was that back there?"

"Who was who?"

"That man. I saw him kiss you. Why?"

"That was Manolo. I am tutoring him in chemistry." Seven eyed Harry curiously.

"I don't like him."

"Are you jealous of a cadet?" Seven shuffled her data padds to the other arm.

"Of course not!" He turned to face her. "I just don't like other guys kissing you."

"Harry, it was nothing more than a kiss to thank me for helping him. You have insufficient reason to be jealous."

"Helping him? How often do you spend time with him?" Harry pulled Seven aside to an empty coorider.

"Almost every afternoon before chemistry." She replied.

"Every after-" Harry interrupted himself. "Seven! You can't just do that to me!"

"What have I done?"

"Apparently that guy thinks you're available or something. If not, he wouldn't have kissed you. You must have done something to give him the idea that you were free."

"Am I not?"

He drew in a sharp breath. "I know we never talked about it. But, I kinda hoped we had established a relationship between us."

"If a 'relationship' means that I can not have friends and can not help others, I don't want a relationship." Seven snapped and turned to walk away, but Harry caught her arm.

"No you don't. Not that easily." He pushed her gently back towards the coorider.

"Ensign Kim. I was a member of the collective for the majority of my life-"

"What does that have to do with anything?!"

"They controlled every action of mine. Even my way of thinking. I do not wish to be subject to that tyranny again."

Harry's eyes opened wide. "You think I'm trying to control you?"

"You have excerized a behavior which leads me to believe that you may possibly try just that. I do not wish to run the risk of becoming a member of another 'collective' and will end this now.'"

"Are you saying, that everything we have between us means nothing to you and you're willing to drop it all?!"

Seven stared at him for a moment. Harry's brown eyes were filled with pain, a pain that caused Seven's belly to ache. Yet, it didnt' seem right for him to control her every movement. She had been forced to endure the collective's control on her and didn't want it to happen again. "I am. I believe it would be better if we saw less of each other, Ensign."

"Fine!" Harry took a step away from her and threw up his hands in discust. "If that's how you want it. We'll see less of each other. A lot less of each other, Seven, because we're through!"

~* =/\= *~

Seven ignored Julie as she stepped across the threshold into her room.

"You have a message."

"Excuse me?"

"On the console." Julie pointed at the computer console in the corner of the room. "It's a subspace message."

"Thank you." Seven sat down at the terminal and quickly activated it. It was from Voyager. Only one person was still on board to her knowledge. It had to come from Sickbay. Disengaging the audio link, Seven allowed the Doctor's words to scroll across the screen as she quickly read them.

"Seven. I know you're busy with the Academy, but I was hoping I could get this message to you. It is imperative that you come back on board and retrieve a piece of technology that is essential to my existence. Starfleet has informed me that they are going to deactivate me and turn Voyager into a museum, and I don't want anything to happen to this piece of technology. They have chosen someone to run the museum, but I don't know who as of yet and don't want to risk it. Come quickly."

His holoemitter. The screen went blank as Seven pushed back from the console. A few buttons later, the message was encrypted to appear that it was never delivered as Seven was calmly walking down the halls to the transporter.

A very bored looking ensign was on duty. "Beam me to Voyager."

He snapped to attention and then looked over the older woman wearing a cadet's uniform. "You're giving me orders?" He scoffed.

Blue eyes turned to ice. "Yes. Do you have a problem with that, Ensign?"

"Yes, ma'am, I do. You don't have proper authority to request a transport."

"Is a transport to a vessel in space really that odd of a request?"

"You're asking to go to the new museum. There's no one on board. Why not just get in a shuttle and go to the visitors' station?"

Seven hesitated only a moment. Leaning into the boy's face, she demanded, "Do you see this metal star on my face? Do you know what it is?"

He tried to lean back and shake his head at the sudden anger pouring fourth from this woman.

"It's a Borg regeration node. Something is malfuntioning with it. If I don't get on Voyager and to the EMH, who happens to be the only doctor in the Alpha or Delta Quadrants who has successfully removed a permanent member from the collective-- me--, the star will regenerate and I'll become full Borg. Now, do you want to be responsible for the assimilation of Earth?"

The ensign shook his head with a frightened look. Three seconds later, Seven rematerialized on Voyager's transporter padd. Stepping down, she breathed the slightly thinner air gratefully. The extra spring in her step almost caused a smile to cross her features. Earth made her feel like she weighed a ton.

"Computer, activate EMH." Seven told the computer as she stepped into sickbay.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency." The Doctor turned. "Seven, thank goodness." He crossed over to his office and opened a drawer in his desk. Handing her the holoemitter he regarded her seriously. "This is the most precious piece of equipment I have. Please, guard it carefully."

"I will Doctor."

"Doctor! Seven!"

Startled, both turned to the doorway where Harry Kim was framed. He walked over to them and gave Seven a quick glare. "What are you doing here?"

"I was summoned by the Doctor's request, Ensign."

"Lieutenant." Harry proudly showed off the extra pip on his collar, while ignoring Seven. "I got promoted." His smile vanished. "Kinda. I should say, they promoted me as long as I agreed to take on the job of curator for our beloved museum." He glanced around sickbay. "Kinda sad that they won't use Voyager anymore..."

"You're the new warden?" The Doctor gave an over exaggerated sigh. "They don't tell me anything. I'm just the hologram. Who, I might add, they're turning off."

Harry frowned. "I've already talked to them concerning that. They're going to keep you on-line, and create holograms of the rest of the crew. Voyager is going to have holoemitters added to most of the rooms here and then people will be able to walk through and see our 'legendary' crew at work." Harry laughed. "I can't wait to come across my hologram."

Seven took a step towards the door. "If I am of no use up here, then I really should return to my quarters on Earth. I have to study for an exam in micronucluar physics tomorrow."

"You're studying for it?" Harry asked with a shake of his head. He loved the woman, the distance in their relationship didn't dull that. "You're one of our best engineers. If you can't pass it, then I really pity your classmates." Seven opened her mouth, but Harry beat her to it. "I know. I know. Pity is irrelevant."

Seven's brow furrowed. "No, Lieutenant. I was merely going to point out that though I have mastered the subject, there are certain things they require me to know that are not true and I must make sure to memorize them as the professor teaches it."

"Not true? Like what?"

She thought for a moment. "They haven't covered it, but it would be comparable to Starfleet telling us that the Omega partical is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. We know that it cght e contained because we have done it."


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